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Wholes, parts, form and powers

Wholes, parts, form and powers DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9585-6 BOOK REVIEW Dave Elder-Vass: The causal power of social structures: Emergence, structure and agency. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010, 240pp, US $85.00 HB Ruth Porter Groff Published online: 23 September 2011 Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011 Dave Elder-Vass has written a very useful book. As suggested by the title, it is an attempt to specify what it might mean to say that social structures can do things. At the same time, it is a claim that they can. Social theorists are perhaps accustomed to such talk, but within the parameters of contemporary analytic philosophy, developing such a line of argument is harder than it might seem ­ and this for reasons that might not be readily apparent. I'd like to set this all out up front, as it has to do with why the book is as useful as it is. At the risk of giving offense, I will assert that a serious engagement with the question of what social structures can or cannot do presupposes three key assumptions: (1) that `being able to do' is a property borne by at least some things; (2) that such a property can be borne by things http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Metascience Springer Journals

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